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Kenya: Rose Mutiso, a researcher who advocates for a better access of Africans to electricity

At 35, Rose Mutiso works on various fronts to promote access to electricity for all Africans. The Kenyan energy specialist also helps African women to become opinion leaders through her organisation « Mawazo Institute ». 

Rose Mutiso is an energy researcher, research director for « Energy for Growth Hub », an American think tank that brings together experts on energy issues around the world ; Ambassador for the Next Einstein Forum, which promotes science in Africa, and founder of the Mawazo Institute, which advocates for the access of women to science. She is committed to different issues, namely promoting access to electricity in Africa, promoting women in science and academia and conveying a modern image of science.

Passionate about science, she studied « Engineering and Material Sciences » at Dartmouth College in the United States and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in 2008. In 2013, she got a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. She specialised, in particular in nanotechnology, the physics of polymer, materials development for energy and electronic applications. For more than a decade, she held several positions in the United States. From 2013 to 2014, she served as Energy and Innovation Officer in the US Senate and co-authored several pieces of legislation that were enacted by former US President Barack Obama. In 2016, she was a Senior Fellow in the International Climate and Clean Energy Office at the US Department of Energy. In particular, she oversaw the department’s engagement on the technological and policy dimensions of energy access in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Within the US Department, she realised that energy policies in Africa were decided from Washington without any African input. This led her to return to Kenya in 2017 to work from Africa on this issue.

Commitment to energy access, but also to women and science

Back in her home country, she co-founded in 2017 the Mawazo Institute, a non-profit research centre based in Nairobi that aims to support the next generation of female academics and opinion leaders in East Africa and to engage policymakers and the public to take an interest in their work. Through its programmes, the institute aims to empower women scientists to conduct high quality research on issues relevant to the African continent. Each year, the institute offers doctoral scholarships to about ten women to finance their research work. It also provides training and platforms to generate debate and influence decision-making in the public sphere.

In 2019, she became Research Director at the Energy Growth Hub, a research network that works with global experts to produce synthetic studies to inform political leaders and participate in events around energy issues. 

Since 2019, Rose Mutiso has been giving TED talks on energy-related topics. She also hosts the podcast « Nairobi Ideas » where she gives voice to Kenyan scientists on various topics such as stargazing, educational mobile applications, the place of Swahili, the local Kenyan language, in the country’s literature…